Accomodating the smart girls

I looked at my stats this morning and saw that I had 165 reads and 20 of them came from one google search term – ” Raising Smart Girls “.

I wonder what people come here looking for and if they are disappointed in what they find. Because, for a blog about raising smart girls, I don’t talk about them much – what they are doing in school or what they are doing at home. There are kind of a few reasons for that.

1. There’s a few people I know in real life that read my blog. I kind of feel embarrassed that maybe I will sound like I’m bragging when I talk about the girls.

2. The girls aren’t extremely precocious, so I figured…there’s nothing much to report on that’s interesting anyway.

3. They are young, and in the regular classrooms at their local public school. Formal gifted identification doesn’t even begin until 3rd grade.

4. They are young. I want them to have a childhood. I want to instill in them a lifetime love of learning, not focus too heavily on academics or what they are achieving (or not).

I have read, from participating in message boards for the gifted, that a child who is moderately gifted, say, about 2 years advanced for his or her peers, that accommodations made within the regular classroom would serve them well enough.

I can say that my oldest daughter, M, in second grade – who is allowed to read whatever she wants for her accelerated reader program – hovers around the 5 to 7th grade reading level. To give you an example of what she might read, it would be Diary of a Wimpy Kid (5th grade level) and the Harry Potter Series (which ranges from 5th to 7th grade in complexity). But then she’ll burn through a whole lot of 2nd-3rd grade books like the A-Z mysteries and Cam Jansen, and Amber Brown. She has her regular reading textbook she’s responsible for, and she has her RTI (Response to Intervention group, for the advanced tier) – which is slightly advanced reading work – like one year above grade level.

One thing I find particularly annoying is that while I know what they are reading in the regular textbook, because she brings it home, I have no idea what happens in RTI. It seems like what happens in RTI stays in RTI. I think they focus more on story development, but I really don’t know. I admit I’ve been a little lassez-faire in what’s going on, because she seems content with whatever it is they are doing. I see no papers come home on the stuff they do. It’s really strange. Yes, I suppose I could always ASK…but I keep forgetting to email the teacher.

She’s still responsible for the regular math work, but in her computer class, she’s doing some 3rd grade math. They can work at their own speed and move up levels as they accomplish the tasks successfully. She has stopped asking me to teach her math at home, and if she feels the need to do more on her own, she has a few third grade workbooks I bought for her. Sometimes I see her pull one out for fun.

I’m not too worried about science, as we do a number of science experiments at home…well we did anyway, before I got a little burned out from it. Though it was cool to see her attempt to make a book of bird drawings from the birds we see in the backyard. It was kind of cool that she decided to come up with that on her own.

She’s hoping next year that she gets the third grade teacher who has, as one of their science projects, an incubator of chicks. She got to see the chicks after they hatched recently, but would love to be able to watch them everyday. I think that would be awesome too. I never got to see that in my school, nor even raise butterflies as they did in kindergarten either.

With my middle daughter, K – a kindergartener, I see a vast difference in how they are accommodating her than they did for M two years before. This is partly because, when M was in kindergarten, there was no RTI program for reading and they just started the accelerated reader program, and whereas M was just a little bit advanced in her reading, K started off the year reading at about a second grade level.

In addition to the accelerated reader program, and the RTI program, I actually get to see more of what she is learning with reading. She brings home worksheets to help her analyze the stories she reads, which are at the second grade level. Early on it was about what came in the beginning, middle and end. Then there was a worksheet about the main idea and 3 supporting ideas. It’s nice to actually see how what she is learning for her RTI group.

She seems to think her math is kind of boring, but she doesn’t complain too often anymore. Sometimes we do more complicated addition and subtraction and place value work at home, if she’s interested.

Even though both of the girls read independently, I still read to them on occasion. I am working our way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series with M, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett with K. We also have some Lemony Snickett books and The Chronicles of Narnia I’d like to get through. There just never seems to be enough time.

As for little E, she’s only in preschool now, but ever since she’d turned five and started reading easy readers, she seems to have caught the reading bug and wants to read about 2-3 easy readers a day, and sometimes she tries harder ones, but usually gives up in frustration. It’s ironic, since it was just 3 short years ago that I was worried about her language skills and would have thought she would not be reading until she was 10.

But anyway…getting back to what does a parent DO with smart, curious kids these days?

I don’t really know.

We’ve done things at home. I have two blogs worth of two years worth of stuff they did. My blogs The Wonder Years and The Exploration Station has a lot of ideas that we tried.

I am personally getting burnt out with trying to come up with ideas.

My own mother didn’t do anything with me and my sisters, directly anyway. She was fighting a lot with my step-dad, and smoked weed with their friends from the pot plant she planted in the atrium (our house was literally like a square donut. A one story square house with a square shaped open air “room” in the middle, accessible through sliding glass doors. It was cool). She was very hands-off in her teaching of us kids, and yet very strict when it came time to discipline us.

She did, however, have a set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, and a good dictionary, and I got books from the library, and I remember having some reading textbooks that my mom must have gotten from some garage sale. I remember, for fun, reading the stories and answering the comprehension questions. But, that’s about it. I played outdoors, chased lizards (we lived in New Mexico at the time so there were lizards running about), and fought pretty bitterly at times with my sisters. My oldest sister picked on me quite a bit.

I don’t know. I guess I turned out all right despite my less-than-stellar upbringing. Despite some teasing from other kids for being one of the smart kids in class, I never felt the need to hide my abilities. Despite being humiliated by my 8th grade science teacher for not knowing one of the facts I was supposed to know and recite in front of the class, I still chose to pursue a science career, because it was my strength.

Still, I know the quality of education may not be (probably is not) equivalent since I was in school.

There is many opinions about the negative consequences of being in the public school system these days – namely teaching to the test and not teaching to be independent thinkers. I’m a little worried about how the changes to the curriculum since I was in school might adversely affect independent reasoning skills.

I hope to get back to my plans to write a series of posts regarding my previous post called Guerilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School. I think it’s time to work out my personal goals and values.

Will they be okay if I don’t supplement their education at home? I don’t really know. What I DO know is that it’s hard to know if I am doing enough, or too much for my daughters.

My recent non-smart-girl posts of late are because I’ve been in pretty much of a pickle. I am currently an underachieving smart girl myself…pretty un-focused as to what to do with myself, let alone with them. I’ve been using my blog to help relieve some stress about some personal struggles as I raise a family.

My daughters, one day might have successful careers of their own. They might, one day, become mothers themselves. I’m always cognizant of the fact that they might have to choose between their career and nurturing their families.

This creates a lot of internal tension within myself. I have no real idea what’s best for them and what’s best for the family as a whole. I’m still questioning a lot of things. I think, perhaps it’s time to dedicate some blog space to work some of this stuff out.

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2 Responses to Accomodating the smart girls

  1. Spacemom says:

    Don’t come up with ideas. Let THEM start coming up with ideas. Ask what do they want to do?

    As for underachievement, what does that mean anyway? What ARE your goals in life? How about the next 2 years? Can you reach them?

    I am also going through ick so I do understand…
    Sigh

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Good point about letting them come up with ideas on their own. That makes me think of maybe having a brainstorming session with them. We can’t always do what they want to do when they want to do it (because we lack the supplies, the time, etc) . But maybe what I’ll do is jot there ideas down and put them in a large jar for when we would have time.

    My goals in life? I’ll have to get back to you on that one. It changes weekly. lol.

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